Time for the Pilgrimage

Where we live in North Central Texas (cool part of rural Collin County), I normally wait until there is just about no chance at any more killing frosts (April 5-10) before I bring plants out of my greenhouse. After all, I have to hire in extra help, and it still takes us three or four days. (Remember, this is not just my living – it’s my obsession.)

Many tropical plants that require overwintering in the greenhouse are sensitive to temperatures well above freezing. That’s why nurseries really don’t start promoting bougainvilleas, tropical hibiscus, mandevillas, hybrid purslane, copper plants and firebush until mid-April and later. Wise gardeners wait to plant caladium tubers until soil temperatures are quite warm. That’s mid-April in South Texas and late April or even May in North Texas. That’s why I never rush the season with all of these tropicals.

One of my biggest concerns when we bring plants back out of the greenhouse is in getting them acclimated to the new lighting. I normally have shade fabric over the greenhouse, so I have to get plants like my crotons back in place for the growing season before it turns really hot and sun-scalding bright. Without that time to adapt, they would certainly scorch. Making the move in April works just perfectly.

So, the engine is running, and the pickup is backed up to my greenhouse. Plants like my collection of 12 or 15 types of aglaonemas and this Torch begonia are about to move out for their summer camp in our gardens. It’s the way it’s been for the past 25 years, and I hope it’s the way it will be for another 25 to come.

Happy springtime!

Posted by Neil Sperry
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